There was a breakfast meeting of the British Dental Bleaching Society (BDBS) hosted by Linda Greenwall, on Friday 17th June 2011 to discuss the current crisis in tooth whitening. There is some good news, with perhaps more news on the horizon.
Mike Volk of Dental Directory presented his recent email from Trading Standards, which was the result of three months of negotiation. He announced that from today he has started selling in-surgery bleaching kits. Even though his Trading Standards are in Essex, he has been told by his lawyers that he can sell in-surgery whitening materials across the UK. Mike said “one important aspect is that Trading Standards have stated in the email that tooth whitening is practise of dentistry and should only be provided by dentists.”
He also said that his legal team is continuing to work with Trading Standards about home tooth whitening. You can. read the latest letter to dentists from Mike Volk here.
But recently the MHRA has become involved (jumped on the bandwagon?) because many whitening products currently for sale in the UK are classed as medical devices (CE mark) and they should all be classified as cosmetic products. Evidently the MHRA has told some manufacturers to stop supplying their products to the distributers, because of the incorrect labelling. So although Dental Directory can start selling some bleaching products, they may still have difficulty with some supplies.
Sir Paul Beresford informed the meeting that he has managed to get a debate about this issue in the House in the near future.
Barry Cockcroft, the Chief Dental Officer said “tooth bleaching is non-invasive, and not damaging if done by a registrant. Patients have the right to choose, based on informed consent. Good oral health and good appearance are now seen as the norm. Other more invasive treatments such a crown and bridgework, have a much higher likelihood of complications.”
He joked that “you can’t un-drill teeth!” He said that both he and the Department are completely agreement with the GDC that registrants should be the only ones to carry out tooth whitening, adding that should non-registrants provide it, there is a massive risk to patients.
Barry went on to explain that changes to the European Cosmetic regulations are proposed but blocked in Brussels and that even though the Essex Trading standards have written to Dental Directory, it still could happen that a dentist could be prosecuted by Trading Standards in another area. He said that if a dentist was prosecuted, he would like to go and speak on behalf of the dentist and the patients.
The CDO held a meeting yesterday with the MHRA and The Department of Business Innovation and Skills (Trading Standards is one of their partners) about a proposed amendment to be submitted to the to the Commission to the EU Parliament within the next few weeks. This is very promising, because previously the proposals have been submitted to the Cosmetics Directive, which is a very slow process, whereas with the Commission to the EU Parliament, there could be a resolution much more quickly.
Barry explained that for the first time he is confident that something will happen.
My fear is that if dentist cannot use hydrogen peroxide products, patients will use therapists who may use chlorine dioxide or other harmful products. Whilst there is a glimmer of sanity in the recent Essex Trading Standards email, home tooth whitening is still ‘off the menu’ for the time being. CODE is planning to release the latest advice on tooth whitening to members early next week, after consultation with the BDBS.